2nd Amendment Takes Backseat In Traffic Stop
A routine traffic stop turned into a full blown assault on the 2nd Amendment in Ohio.
Chad Smith, 34, and his girlfriend were on their way home from a friend’s house. After accelerating when their light turned green, they were stunned to see flashing lights in their rear view mirror.
They pulled to the side of the road. An Ohio State Trooper named Martin approached their vehicle on the driver’s side where the girlfriend was seated. Per protocol, he asked for her license and registration. The information was handed to him and the couple asked why they had been pulled over.
According to the officer, she had swerved within her lane about a half mile prior to him pulling them over. He offered no explanation as to why he waited so long to stop them.
Then Martin asked if there were any weapons in the car. Smith, the passenger and not the one being initially spoken to by the officer, responded. He told the patrolman that, yes, he had a concealed carry permit and was in possession of firearms.
That’s when things went haywire.
So Much For Rights
Smith described what happened next. “He [the officer] came flying around the car and yanked my door open. Then he reached for the .357 on my hip. I blocked his hand from taking it and asked what he thought he was doing.”
Martin told Smith that he was taking the gun. Smith, understandably, found that unacceptable. He told Trooper Martin that he was well versed in his 2nd amendment rights. Martin, however, confiscated both the .357 Smith was wearing and a .380 that was located in the passenger’s side door. Upon finding the .380, he sarcastically asked “What? You weren’t going to tell me about this one?”
Proceeding back around to the driver’s side, Martin also took the firearm the female driver was wearing. (The driver did not have a concealed permit.) He then went back to his patrol vehicle.
Upon returning, Martin told Smith to get out of the car. Frustrated, Smith told Martin he wanted him to call for his Sergeant. He also stated emphatically that he did not agree to or give permission for a search of his vehicle.
Neither of these statements, apparently, phased Martin. He again demanded that Smith get out of the car.
Stepping out as directed, Smith stood. At his full height of 6’6″, he towered over Martin. This did nothing to help the situation. Evidently, Martin found the size intimidating. He began to get louder and more authoritative.
Martin instructed Smith to put his hands on the vehicle. Smith, none too happy that he was being held without having violated any laws, again, asked for a Sergeant to be called. Several times, he asked what he was being charged with. He repeatedly told the officer that he believed he was being illegally detained. Martin simply raised his volume in response.
A second patrolman approached. In contrast to Martin, he calmly asked Smith to comply. Smith, after reiterating that no permission for the search of his vehicle had been given, stuck his hands on the hood. A “pat down” was conducted.
Trooper Martin then directed Smith to put his hands behind his back. That took things from bad to worse.
According to Smith, he absolutely refused to be handcuffed. “I said ‘Look, buddy, I haven’t raised my voice. I haven’t threatened you. It’s not gonna happen.’ ”
He told Martin, for at least the third time, that he wanted his Sergeant involved. The Sergeant had “better things to do,” Smith was told. When Martin insisted that he put his hands behind his back, Smith turned to face him.
That’s when Martin motioned toward his own weapon. Smith, admits to getting disrespectful at this point. “I told him ‘Look, Mighty Mouse, you can reach for it, but it’s not gonna go well for any of us.’ ”
The second officer allowed Smith to remain free of handcuffs. He requested that Smith wait in the back of the patrol car. Though in legal possession of his guns, Smith was seated in the backseat of Martin’s vehicle.
Meanwhile, Trooper Martin had the female driver step out of the car. Smith reports that he told the second patrolman that the couple wanted a female officer to perform the search of her person. Martin performed the search, including inside her pockets.
Smith says that he spoke directly to the car’s interior camera. He explained that he had asked for a Sergeant a total of 5 times throughout the ordeal. He stated that he had denied permission for a search 4 times. He detailed that he was a legal, concealed weapons carrier.
By the end of the incident, Smith was given a citation for failure to inform the officer that he had a permit and a firearm. Per Smith, it was his informing the officer that prompted Martin to come to his side of the car in the first place. Ohio law holds that a permit carrier must inform an officer “promptly.” No specific time is given that I was able to find.
While Smith was permitted to leave, his guns and his permit were taken by Trooper Martin.
The driver was arrested for improper handling of a firearm and taken in.
(In an ironic twist, Smith is a #bluelivesmatter supporter with several friends and relatives on multiple law enforcement departments.)
Smith was given a public defender. On their initial day in court, he waited behind two illegal aliens who got slaps on the wrist for DUIs. He waited behind a parolee with a charge for possession of a firearm who was sent along his merry way. Then, it was his turn. Smith plead not guilty. He was given a trial date of Aug. 22.
The public defender informed Smith that she would not see him again until the day of the trial. Smith is hoping that news of this incident will make it to a more attentive attorney.
Outside of the possible legal ramifications, Smith explains that there have been occupational ones, as well. He has been forced to turn down 2 job offers because he can not leave the state to accept them. A long-awaited position has been offered to him within the last few days. It is a job, however, at which you can not have had a criminal offense in the last 5 years. If the current charges are not dropped, Smith will become ineligible for the position.
A Final Note
Current tensions between law enforcement and the public are at an all time high. The last thing I want to do is paint hard working officers in a bad light. If, however, certain officers are in the wrong, those with whom they interacted should not be made to suffer the consequences. Only time will tell if the wagons get circled regarding this, particular, event. We can only hope that if Smith’s version of the story proves to be accurate, his rights are restored.
© 2016 Vianna Vaughan
*When the Ohio State Highway patrol was contacted for comment, their Public Information Officer was “unfamiliar” with the specific situation. As such, he declined an official statement. Given that, the only available account is that of Smith. All requests for video and audio footage of the incident were formally denied.